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Change orders—requests from contractors for more money from government entities—are one of the most lucrative parts of the business. Change orders are supposed to be used for cost overruns when a job turns out to be more complicated than expected, or when the prices of supplies go up.

But in the bidding game, a company can underbid the cost of a project, win the contract, then turn in change orders down the line to make up the difference (or pad the contract).

Under an ordinance before the Clayton County Board of Commissioners tonight, the chief operating officer would have the power to approve “all change orders and contracts up to a value of 10 percent of the original contract price,” as long as the total change order is under $74,999.

If a contract was originally approved by the BOC, COO, or director of central services, and the changes “amend the scope of work, term, time, and/or total cost” up to $74,999 “may be approved” by the COO or the COO’s designee.

The proposed ordinance specifies that “Change orders shall not be artificially divided so as to remain under the 10 percent threashold.”

The Director of Central Services “and/or his/her designee shall have authority to approve all change orders to purchase orders and contracts up to an absolute value of $50,000.” Similarly, the director or their designee “may” approve change orders previously okayed by the BOC, COO, or director “which amend the scope of work, term, time, and/or total cost not exceeding $50,000.”

The BOC would vote on any such changes at the next board meeting “as part of the monthly report from the director of central services and/or the chief operating officer.”

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